Newman’s Dr John Moore sees work published in Criminology journal

11/06/2018 by Sinead Staunton

Last month, the Ministry of Justice launched an Education and Employment Strategy which declared its central vision to be, that ‘when an offender enters prison they should be put, immediately, on the path to employment on release.’ A research paper Labouring out of Adversity by Newman University’s Dr John Moore, published in this month’s edition of leading criminology periodical The Howard Journal, shows that this desire to make prison a place where work is promoted has a long history.

Dr Moore’s article explores the ideas of the first Governor of Birmingham prison and leading mid-nineteenth-century penal reformer, Alexander Maconochie. Labouring out of Adversity shows how Maconochie used the ideas of the emerging science of political economy to develop a theoretical system that claimed to be able to use prisoners’ labour to facility their reformation.

Despite recognising the innovative and distinctive contributions Maconchie made to penal theory Dr Moore’s paper also explores the two opportunities he had to test his theories in practice, firstly as Superintendent of Norfolk Island penal settlement off the coast of Australia between 1839 and 1843, and subsequently at Birmingham prison between 1849 and 1851. These experiments, Dr Moore shows, failed spectacularly.

Newman University has funded a period of research leave in the next academic year to allow Dr Moore to undertake further work on both Maconochie and the development of ideas and practices in nineteenth-century punishment.  This further research will focus on how understandings of reformation developed over the century and how these led to the formation of the discipline of criminology.